257. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Berlin Negotiations


  • German
    • Egon Bahr—State Secretary, Chancellor’s Office
    • Guenther Van Well—Assistant Secretary, Foreign Office
  • American
    • Henry A. Kissinger—Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt—Senior Member, National Security Council
    • James S. Sutterlin—Director, Office of German Affairs

Mr. Kissinger asked State Secretary Bahr whether there were any points to be covered on the Berlin negotiations. Bahr replied that the United States and the FRG are for the most part in such close agreement that there was little which needed discussion. The only point of difference concerned the possibility of a Soviet Consulate in the Western sectors.

Mr. Kissinger asked whether Bahr saw any differences between a Soviet Consulate General and a Soviet trade mission. Bahr said that a trade mission would be something exceptional since there are no other trade missions in the Western sectors. On the other hand there are many other countries which have consulates in West Berlin. Thus a Soviet Consulate would simply be in line with an existing pattern. Mr. Kissinger commented that the other countries which maintain consulates [Page 755] in the Western sectors do not have the special claims to responsibility which the Soviets have. Bahr replied that if the Soviets claim special responsibility in West Berlin then we should not give them a consulate general. He repeated, however, that a Soviet consulate office could be accredited in West Berlin on precisely the same basis as those of other countries. Mr. Kissinger said that from these remarks he assumed the German side would prefer a consulate general to a trade mission. Bahr replied affirmatively.

Mr. Kissinger said that we do not have a fixed position on a Soviet Consulate General. He asked Mr. Sutterlin whether there would be some paper coming over from the State Department on what the general status of the question was. Mr. Sutterlin said that there was a distinction in the U.S. position between a relatively small increase in the Soviet presence in West Berlin and a Soviet office having the character of an official representation such as a consulate general. The Department had prepared instructions, which would be coming over to the White House, authorizing Ambassador Rush to broach with the Soviets a small increase in their presence after having first consulted with the British, French and Germans.2 In the case of a consulate general the Department would have to present a paper to the White House proposing a change in the terms of the relevant NSDM,3 with which the German side was already familiar.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 685, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. IX. Secret. Drafted by Sutterlin on June 18. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office. The memorandum is part II of III; parts I (MBFR) and III (RFE and RL) are ibid. Sonnenfeldt forwarded the memorandum to Kissinger on June 21 for approval. (Ibid.) An attached note from David Halperin to Jeanne Davis indicates that Kissinger reviewed but did not specifically approve the memoranda of conversation with Bahr. For a German record of the conversation on Berlin, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1971, Vol. 2, pp. 995–996. Kissinger told Nixon after the meeting with Brandt on June 15: “I’m having three different meetings with Bahr.” “One I have to do for the record, so that the State Department gets a record; then I’m seeing him with Rush tomorrow, for 2 hours tomorrow afternoon.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation Between Nixon and Kissinger, June 15, 1971, 5:13–6:03 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation 521–13) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. According to his Record of Schedule, Kissinger also met Rush and Bahr on June 16 from 5:32 to 6:35 p.m., and Bahr privately for breakfast on June 17 from 8 to 9:10 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No substantive record of either meeting has been found.
  2. Document 260.
  3. Reference is to NSDM 106 (Document 225).